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Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
John Williams

Co-Produced by:
Kim Turner

A&M Records

Release Date:
December 12th, 1995

Also See:

Audio Clips:
1. Theme from Sabrina (0:28):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

3. Linus' New Life (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Nantucket Visit (0:28):
WMA (181K)  MP3 (226K)
Real Audio (140K)

13. Theme from Sabrina (Reprise) (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

Regular U.S. release.

  The song "Moonlight" and the score were both nominated for Academy Awards. That song was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award.

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Buy it... if you are nostalgic for the romantic Golden Age style of elegant piano solos and conservative barroom jazz.

Avoid it... if you expect that dated sound to provide a convincing expression of elegance for the otherwise modernized adaptation of the classic story.

Sabrina: (John Williams) Remakes of classic Golden Age films are destined for tough scrutiny from hardened critics and audiences, and while director Sydney Pollack's revision of the 1954 romance Sabrina was both admirable in its adaptation for the 1990's and in genuinely valiant attempts by Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford to replace Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, audiences never warmed to the picture. Ormond and Ford were simply never Hepburn and Bogart, despite whatever chemistry they may have sparked on screen. Arguably part of the difficulty in remaking Sabrina was the forced modernization of the story. There was far less romance inherent in the surroundings of a 1990's world compared to that which existed in the original film. Famed composer John Williams was brought on board the project to help smooth over that transition and dependably provide a musical link to the Golden Age. Williams was coming off of his longest break from film scoring in many years, deciding not to take a scoring assignment in 1994 and instead focus on his concert tours and a variety of other projects. Undoubtedly, 1993 had been his strongest year in a long time, with Jurassic Park and Schindler's List both destined for greatness, and Williams had a difficult time living up to heightened expectations in 1995, especially by his own standards. Indeed, both of his 1995 film projects, Nixon and Sabrina, were generally considered failures, and his music for these films has fallen victim to neglect by even many of Williams' own fans. In the case of Sabrina, Williams was returning to a nostalgic age he was fond of reproduced in his very early years of composition. Long before his large-scale orchestral efforts, Williams produced echoes of the Golden Age in his barroom jazz-style compositions. Pollack undoubtedly requested this romantic sound for the modern incarnation of Sabrina and Williams responded with a predictable score straight from that era. Built upon Williams' favorite source of romance, the piano, Sabrina is an elegant, classically performed score unlike anything from the composer in the ten years before or after. But was it the right move by Pollack and Williams? Perhaps not, for this sound ultimately fell victim to the same criticism as the film.

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There is no doubt that, technically speaking, Williams' Sabrina is a superior piece of composition, especially for those who appreciate fine performances on piano. The instrument is the primary source of emotion in every cue, ranging from the harmonic, rambling performances of the title theme to the fluid continuation of similar ideas in the conversational underscore. However, like the film, the romance seems out of place and forced into a mold that doesn't fit a modern representation of the story. Whether you hear the music in the film or by itself, you hear Williams trying too hard to place Sabrina in the past, losing the authenticity of the elegance that he could have offered had he allowed that piano to perform rhythms and thematic progressions of a more contemporary style. It could be argued that several of his 1960's scores are more genuine than Sabrina in their performances; the modern ensemble also fails to swing with the appropriate, dancing steps required to accentuate the excitement of love in the story. In other words, Williams wrote a functional (and at times beautiful) score, but an emotionally flat one. A solid example of elegance lost exists in the suite format of his title theme, which introduces the orchestra after a lengthy piano solo, and during the orchestral swells, the piano continues to meander hopelessly in the background, nearly ruining the tonality of the music. The middle portions of the underscore are uninspired by the romantic atmosphere or seemingly anything else, going through token motions with a muted trumpet in one cue and an accordion for Paris in another. The complexity of the continuously wandering piano lines continues, as it did in Williams' early 1970's scores, often mirrored by a single woodwind instrument. The "Nantucket Visit" cue breaks the monotony of the underscore for some brief comedy relief, but when the film and album return to Williams' arrangements of classic Golden Age dance tunes, the placement of the music in a context of time is once again placed in flux. Sting's voice is too modern for Williams' adapted "Moonlight" song, further confusing the era of this score. On album there is only about 25 minutes of original Williams material to be found, with arrangements, songs, and reprises comprising the rest of its length. For collectors of both Golden Age romances and Williams' modern orchestral efforts, Sabrina will seem just a touch out of place and, like the film, lacking in a convincing expression of elegance. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.74 (in 69 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.59 (in 338,227 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.18 Stars
Smart Average: 3.13 Stars*
***** 110 
**** 120 
*** 116 
** 92 
* 76 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Sabrina- John Williams
  Ana -- 12/2/10 (7:15 a.m.)
   Williams beyond Film Track
  EJ -- 12/20/09 (11:27 p.m.)
   I think mr. clemmensen is wrong
  samuel -- 6/28/08 (10:04 a.m.)
   Awesome soundtrack & movie
  jane -- 2/10/08 (8:01 p.m.)
   I TOTALLY disagree with it
  Sam -- 1/5/07 (11:43 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 51:31

• 1. Theme from Sabrina (4:30)
• 2. Moonlight - performed by Sting (5:20)
• 3. Linus' New Life (2:45)
• 4. Growing Up in Paris (3:02)
• 5. (In the) Moonlight (Instrumental)* (2:59)
• 6. Sabrina Remembers/La Vie en Rose (1:42)
• 7. Sabrina Comes Home (4:14)
• 8. Nantucket Visit (2:31)
• 9. The Party Sequence - suite of Golden Age instrumental songs (10:53)
• 10. Sabrina and Linus Date (2:40)
• 11. How Can I Remember?* - performed by Michael Dees (2:50)
• 12. Sabrina's Return to Paris (2:22)
• 13. Theme from Sabrina (Reprise) (5:23)

* not contained in the film

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Sabrina are Copyright © 1995, A&M Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 8/22/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.